The Spanish "j" is most commonly pronounced like the English "h". In Castillian Spanish, it is pronounced like the "ch" in "loch".

I have recently heard Spanish speakers pronounce "bañjo" and "niñja" like the English "j". I even hear the name "Beñjamín" being pronounced like the English "j". I have even heard other proper names like "Jennifer" being pronounced like the English "j". Is there any way to predict when Spanish speakers would pronounce the "j" like the English "j"?

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    Relevant: Pronunciation of Boca Juniors
    – sumelic
    Commented Feb 19, 2022 at 12:33
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    The general way to predict that a given letter in language A will be pronounced like it is language B is when the word in language A is a loanword from language B. This tends to fall apart for English as we tend to aggressively enforce our own phonetic rules on loanwords, but most other languages tend to try to replicate the original pronunciation as much as possible. Commented Feb 19, 2022 at 12:36
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    Note that there is no English phoneme equivalent to the Spanish j. It is pronounced as IPA [x]or [χ], see course.happyhourspanish.com/lessons/…). It is much stronger ("throatier") than the English h and weaker than the English ch.
    – terdon
    Commented Feb 19, 2022 at 13:36
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    "However, that sound has been replaced by the English "h" sound." No, no and no. There is no replacement. You keep asking questions that tend to show you seem to think Western languages are related in ways they are not. All languages have loan words.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 1:32
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    @ArunabhBhattacharya Looking at the edit history, it looks like you keep re-editing the inaccuracies back into your post after other people fix them. 1) The standard spellings are "banjo", "ninja", and "Benjamín". There's no [ɲ] sound in these words (the sound represented by ⟨ñ⟩). 2) The most common pronunciation of Spanish ⟨j⟩ is still [x] (⟨ch⟩ in "loch" as a Scottish person would pronounce it). It is never pronounced [h] (English ⟨h⟩) by native Spanish speakers. Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 15:58

2 Answers 2


When the words are foreign words and adopt the original phonetics.

Banjo comes from English, in Spanish there are both Banjo and Banyo, as it is pronounced.

Ninja comes from the Japanese and is pronounced with its original phonetics.

I didn't find any another word with "nj" from 2900 pronounced as the English "j".

But, sometimes the "j" is pronounced as in English in some words, especially anglicisms. For example:

  • Jean is never pronounced j.e.a.n but as "dʒin" (Spanish pronuntiation)
  • The same with Jogging, Jet, Jet set, Jet lag, Jumbo, Jazz, Junior, words all accepted in the RAE.

Sometimes it depends on the meaning or use:

  • Jaguar the animal is pronounced like the Spanish "j"

  • Jaguar the car, like the "j" in English

  • Ginebra is pronounced with the Spanish "g", similar to the Spanish "j" sound

  • Gin is pronounced with the original English phonetics

The same happens with some Gallicisms, where the j or g are not (or rarely are) pronounced with the Spanish sound but with the French one:

  • Beige, Collage, Déjà vu,
  • Garaje, with the original phonetics in Latin America, not in Spain.

And of course all personal names: John Travolta, Michael Jackson, Norma Jean, Jean Luc Godard, Jessica Rabbit.

  • "But, sometimes the "j" is pronounced as in English in some words, especially anglicisms. For example:" - Your first example is one of them not pronouncing it as in English (yin)... which makes your examples a bit confusing.. do they pronounce "Jogging" like in English or as "Yogging"?
    – Rob
    Commented Feb 20, 2022 at 4:16
  • It's a problem about how to transcribe in Spanish the phonetics of "j" as it's pronounced in English. I changed the answer using which is the right symbol.
    – Danielillo
    Commented Feb 20, 2022 at 7:26
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    "Banjo comes from English, in Spanish there are both Banjo and Banyo, as it is pronounced.". I would point out that English "banjo" itself is originally African.
    – Arunabh
    Commented Aug 20, 2022 at 18:38
  • And likewise, English speakers pronounce "jicama" like in Spanish.
    – Arunabh
    Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 4:37

@Danielillo's answer is mostly correct, but the sound isn't exactly like English ⟨⁠j⁠⟩ [⁠d͡ʒ⁠]. Rather, it's somewhere in between English ⟨⁠j⁠⟩ and English ⟨⁠y⁠⟩, a sound which doesn't exist in English — [⁠ʝ⁠] or [⁠ɟ͡ʝ⁠]. This sound is the same as the ⟨⁠y⁠⟩ in “yo” or the ⟨⁠ll⁠⟩ in “llamar”.

However, note that there's a wide variation in how this sound is pronounced in different regions, speakers, and contexts — [⁠ʝ⁠], [⁠ɟ͡ʝ⁠], [ʒ], even [⁠ʃ⁠]. And in some places, the pronunciation of ⟨⁠ll⁠⟩ is different from that of ⟨⁠y⁠⟩ (see ⁠yeísmo⁠).

So, the more accurate answer to "When would Spanish speakers pronounce ⟨⁠j⁠⟩ like English ⟨⁠j⁠⟩ [⁠d͡ʒ⁠]?" is "never". But they pronounce it similarly ([⁠ʝ⁠~ɟ͡ʝ⁠]) in loanwords from other languages, such as "banjo" and "ninja".


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